"What is the difference between a venue coordinator and what you do? Should I still consider you if my venue has a coordinator for day-of?"
I get this question A LOT. In the most simple of terms, we do NOT have the same job. Venues who have "day-of wedding planners" are staffed specifically to maintain the facility while your wedding day is taking place. Oftentimes venues will hire someone to "run" a wedding as a complimentary feature to make their venue a more appealing sell. While they may answer a lot of emails, and some of the nicer ones may even give you tips or vendor referrals, most of them don't think too much about you or your wedding day until about two weeks out.
I do work with venue coordinators quite often. For the most part they are very friendly, informative, and know every little thing about the venue and the answer to just about any question you might have because they have been asked the same question a thousand times by other brides. I love having them around and they love having me around. To them, I am a welcome presence, and an easier wedding day (just as many vendors would attest to). To me, they are a welcomed asset who, unless I have worked that venue several times, are great resources if I am in a pinch and need to fix something, power goes out, etc.
The main difference is the volume of clients, details they are involved with, and attention to each of them. They have 80-100 weddings a year (most venues) and I have no more than 15. Those 30 clients are my life for the entire wedding season. I answer thousands of emails, make countless phone calls, and yes, even a coffee date or three, so my clients can get the best experience I can offer them. It doesn't matter if you have hired me for month-of or full planning and design: I care about your wedding details. I will make sure we have thought through everything together and if something comes up, I will know you well enough to handle the situation just the way you would want me to with your best interests in mind.A venue coordinator or day-of planner cannot make choices the same way because they have too many other brides to worry about and so little time to understand you and what you want for your day.
"Is it OK if my friend is the DJ with my iPod, and my aunt is the florist and my cousin is making the cake and my mom is doing my hair?"
Yes, of course it is OK. That being said, I personally have major qualms with asking family and friends for favors that would take away from their experience of your wedding day. I also think for positions like the DJ, if they are a friend (yes, this has happened to me) they tend to like to drink like they are a guest. And since friends "don't need contracts" (not on my watch!) that friend can ruin your wedding quite quickly even if only operating an iPod. Same goes for caterers and florists, I am not a fan of "friend vendors" in general unless you have a "photographer friend" who is a full time wedding photographer, because that is different story. There are a few roles where I absolutely think a friend is a great option. Live music (i.e. a classic guitar or violinist) for your ceremony or cocktail hour. Yes! Awesome. A graphic designer who can help with save the dates or your wedding website. Yes! Awesome. Aunt Carla made 300 cookies for the dessert bar. Yes! Awesome Aunt Carla.
"How much should I spend on a wedding planner? Everything is SO expensive!"
Yes, sticker shock is a hard thing to get over when you are planning. Pinterest, blogs, and magazines can be dangerous in that way because you see something beautiful and you want it, and then you find out it is five times your budget. Then you say to yourself, "but it's my wedding, and I am only doing this once!" Even I couldn't escape the wedding budget vortex I am describing. You can spend whatever you want on anything you want. As for budgeting I am happy to set up a consultation to walk through it with you, I know it is a lot of hard-earned money and respect that very much. That being said, there is great value in great vendors. I am an expert in helping my clients save where they are able, and pairing them up with vendors that are in line with their personalities and budgets. As I was building my business my pricing was the most difficult thing to palette. As you can see on my investment page, I am straight forward with my clients about what I charge because I have nothing to hide. I love what I do, it is my passion. If I could help every bride I would. I price myself so that a bride with $30K can afford to work with me and a bride with $125K can work with me. My aim is to set my pricing so I am at the 10% level of either budget. At the 30-50K level I suggest month-of planning with hourly consultations as needed. At the the 60-150K level I recommend full planning. I do have some clients with lower budgets who want to really splurge on a full planning package because it works best for them, and I can still make it happen!
Why don't you have a "day of" planning package?
It is of the utmost importance to me that I am a resource and leader that can confidently answer questions and solve any issues in a way you, as the client, would want them addressed. If I offered day of planning, I would be coming into a wedding blind. Sure I could run a timeline, but chances are that it will be a timeline with "holes" in it that you hadn't thought through. Part of my job is making sure you are as stress-free as possible. When you are handing over everything the day before, that stress is on your shoulders all the way until that point. I want to put quality time into my client's big days and make sure as many details are covered as possible, and at the very least, I need to know enough so that the vendors, guests and bridal party can ask me questions and I can answer them confidently. I believe having a month-of planner is the best investment a couple can make for their wedding day (and I am not just saying that because I am a planner, but I also know that I need to be involved for at least a month to be at that caliber of investment for you.)